VITAL SIGNSrnPOLITICSrnChristophobiarnby Paul GottfriedrnI n the December 1999 issue of Commentary,rnIrving Stelzcr took PeterrnBrinielow to task for wanting to restrictrninnnigration. Setting the facts aside,rnStel/.er accuses Brinielow of being a fanrnof the “old-line WASP population” thatrnhad producedrn]:)erk-laden corpocrats who so mismanagedrnAmerica’s major companiesrnas almost to bring the economrnto ruin before being saved byrniXhcliacl Milken and his gang ofrnsons-of-immigrants corporaternraiders.rnStcl/er hopes his commentary will pro-rnide “Mr. Brinielow with enlightenment,”rnbut he su,spects it will not:rnI regret that 1 simpK do not possessrna torch powerful enough to brightenrnthe darkness in which he findsrnhimself as he contemplates the futurernof an America peopled by folksrndifferent from himselfrnriiere v’as nothing in Brimelow’srncomments to jushfy such rhetorical violence;rnStel/.cr’s irrational response canrnonl- be explained as a reflection of his inteuserndislike of WASPs, whose diminishingrnpresence in American life fills himrnwirii jo’. Such sneering is characteristicrnof poliHcal intellectuals who have neverrnhad to deal witli their own burden of prejudicern— and, indeed, have worn it as arnmark of moral superiorih’.rnOne main tendency in neoconservativernl)igotr- is exemplified by Commentary’srnmanifoccted anti-Christianism. Inrnflic 1980’s, when Commentary’s Christophobiarnwas blatant, the back pages (and,rnlater, die front ones) abounded in accusaHoiisrnagainst Christiauit)-. Representatirne of this obsession were such ill-conceirned polemics as Henryk Crvnberg’srn”Appropriaring die Holocausf (Decemberrn1982), Ilvam Maccobv’s “ChrisHanit’rns Break with Judaism” (August 1984),rnand Ruth R. Wisse’s “Blaming Israel”rn(Februar)’ 1984). In the first two pieces,rnthe holocaust was made to fit into thernChristian theological mainstream; Alaccobyrnclaimed a straight line ran from thern”crucifixion myth” to Auschwitz. Mostrndisconcerting was the repeated chargernriiat die New ‘lestament had contributedrndecisively to the destruction of EuropeanrnJewrv. This accusahon flies in the face ofrndie obvious f;ict that some of the mostrnconspicuous Bible-reading Christian denominahonsrnhave no record whatever ofrnantisemitism. In Wisse’s attacks on dierncritics of Israel’s dien right-wing government,rnshe even argued diat flic (leftist)rnWorld Council of Churches sided widirnthe Palestinians because of its Christianrn— and therefore necessarily aiitiseniihcrn—character.rnThe iiiid-80’s also saw a rash of articlesrnpublished in Commentary by or on “Jewishrnwriter” Cyudiia Ozick. An author ofrndecidedly middling talent, Ozick wroternlyrically nonetheless on the problem ofrnChristian prejudice. She also sufferedrnfrom a palpable perceptual difficulty,rnconfusing American celebrations of Easterrnwith the anti-Jewish riots that hadrnplagued her ancestral Ukrainian villagernat die beginning of the 20tli century.rnAn essay of mine, which appeared inrnflie Salisbury Review in the niid-80’s andrnpointed out these examples of bigotrv, occasionedrnexpressions of shock from traditionalrnChrishans. Though they claimedrnto read Commentary fiiidifully, all of thisrnmaterial had somehow escaped dieir noticern—which is a bit like reading die Spotlightrnand not perceiving its opinionsrnabout a worldwide Jewish conspiracv.rnOld habits die hard (and judging byrnthe New York Post’s strenuous attempts tornegg on John McCain against the religiousrnright, these particular habits mayrnstill be around), but by the late 80’s, inrnany case, Norman Podhoretz and his successor,rnNeil Kozody, had stopped thernovert Chrishan-bashing. One palpablernreason is that “sensiHve” Chrishan conservahvesrnbelabor this dieme as much asrnthe Commentary circle used to. WithrnWilliam E. Buckley making torturedrnsearches for antisemitism and CalrnThomas repeatedly indicHng the Americanrnpeople (most reccndy in his syndicatedrncolumn of December 14) for “sellingrnout Jews,” why should Podhoretz and hisrnfriends bother with the same stuff? Butrneven more importantly, as Daniel Pipesrnexplained in “American Muslims againstrnAmerican Jews” (Commentary, Mayrn1998), American Jews may be wastingrntheir Hme on “yesterday’s problem,” traditionalrnChrishans, when the more urgentrnconcern is the growing Muslim populationrnin the United States. In line withrnthis perception, a strategic adjustmentrnhad taken place at Commentary head-rnC|uarters. In order to rally its readers andrnthe captive right to a struggle against anti-rnZionist Muslims, Commentary is tryingrnto make nice to “our Chrishan friends.”rnIn 1994, Midge Decter and Ir’ing Kristolrneven scolded the ADL and its director forrnmaking false or exaggerated chargesrnagainst the pro-Israeli Chrishan right.rnBut other neocon dislikes have notrnbeen concealed. Ethnic ill will hasrnrushed in to fill the void created byrnthe strategic absence of anti-Christianrnpolemics. Several long arhcles in Commentaryrn(cf May 1988 and April 1997)rnby Donald Kagan compare Imperial Germanyrnto both the Third Reich and Stalin’srnRussia. Eately Kagan—whose backgroundrnis in ancieut histor’—has pulledrnthe Spartans in as additional heavies.rnContran,’ to what might be gathered fromrndhucydides and Xeuophon, Sparta is depictedrnas imperialistic as well as antidemocratic.rnIndeed, the descendants ofrndie Dorians are turned into proto-Ceriiians,rnin a bid for hegemonv against proto-rnglobal democratic Athens.rnSuch jerry-built parallels bring tornmind the popular Cenuan phrase that ifrna narrative seems congenial, a dannrngeht’s umso sehlimmer fiir die Tatsachenrn(“why worry about the facts?”). Were itrnnot for the Nazis, nobody would botherrnwith these selective comparisons. Butrnwhy arc they gaining currency right now?rnDespite Arthur Schlesinger’s stupidrncomparison in the late 40’s of JeffersonrnDavis and Robert E. Lee with Hifler andrnGoering, the neocon dislike for unreconstructedrnSouthern whites is probably unrelatedrnto their anachronistic hatred ofrnGermans. Southerners were overwhelminglyrnanglophile during bodi world warsrnand were disproportionately representedrnfiS^OOj iS’77-S4S9rnMAY 2000/43rnrnrn